Kenyan court jails ex-sports minister for six years over graft

Former Kenyan sports minister Hassan Wario looks on during his sentencing for corruption charges in connection with the 2016 Rio Olympics funds, at the Milimani Law Courts in Nairobi, Kenya September 16, 2021. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi

NAIROBI (Reuters) - A Kenyan court on Thursday sentenced a former sports minister to six years in prison after finding him guilty over the siphoning of funds meant for athletes in the Brazil Olympics five years ago.

The East African nation enjoyed its most successful Olympics in Rio, winning six gold medals, six silvers and one bronze in track and field, but the performance was blighted by claims of corruption among senior government officials and team bosses.

A magistrate's court in Nairobi found Hassan Wario, who was the sports minister at the time, guilty of abuse of office in connection with the loss of funds.

Issuing a ruling in the case that started in 2018, the court gave Wario, who was appointed Kenya's ambassador to Austria after serving in the cabinet, the alternative of paying a 3.6 million shillings ($32,742) fine to avoid going to jail.

Stephen Soi, who was the team leader and was tried alongside Wario, was found guilty of corruption and was sentenced to 10 years in prison or a fine of 103 million shillings.

President Uhuru Kenyatta's government charged dozens of senior officials with various crimes in a crackdown against graft in 2018 and 2019.

The Wario case is among the first of those to be concluded.

($1 = 109.9500 Kenyan shillings)

(Reporting by Monicah Mwangi; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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